Page 10 - Campus Security & Life Safety, November/December 2018
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This is where modern technology can truly make a difference. Virtu- ally every student, staff member, and faculty member carry a smart- phone. Furthermore, people are already comfortable using these devices to share all manner of information. Leveraging these devices, their connectivity, and people’s familiarity with them in the interest of safety and security is an efficient way to overcome many of the issues that have traditionally impeded the delivery of actionable risk intelli- gence. Put another way, modern technology can digitize the “if you see something, say something” mentality that is so often stressed by secu- rity officials. It makes it much easier to actually “say something.”
By routing the proverbial “tip line” through a smartphone, security officials are able to receive a much greater volume of critical intelli- gence from empowered users. This new approach to prevention creates a culture of shared responsibility and vigilance. It encourages and enables students, teachers and staff to report on the full spectrum of risks, from everyday facility safety issues and theft to more serious incidents involving sexual assault or suicidal ideation.
There are many advantages to a smartphone-based intelligence sharing platform. Anonymity is as easy as a swipe of the finger or the push of a button. This feature eliminates potential blowback and just as importantly, the perception of blowback, making it much more likely that students and other users will actually report potential risks to security. Smartphones can also capture images, audio, and other assets, aside from written tips. Smartphones are ubiquitous and always pres- ent, meaning that a user is never more than arm’s length away from a device immediately and easily capable of notifying security.
Smartphone-based risk intelligence platforms are also highly adapt- able, with virtually endless applications. There are many institutions across the nation that are experimenting with these powerful plat- forms right now. Georgetown University was recently one of several institutions honored by LiveSafe, a company that produces a mobile safety communications platform and risk mitigation tool, for their out- standing use of our people-sourced, incident-prevention risk commu- nications platform.
The university was experiencing an uptick in laptop thefts in their library. As opposed to the usual mass, non-targeted message that an institution might send out (such as an email blast), the Georgetown University Chief of Public Safety leveraged a newer, more dynamic part of the LiveSafe platform—time-based geo-fenced messages that target a specific audience over a period of time in a particular location.
The chief made the geo-fenced message “active” for a few days, ensuring that students who walked into the library and “tripped” the geo-fence would be notified of the thefts and encouraged to keep all of their belongings with them at all times. By notifying people of the potential threat, additional thefts were avoided. If more thefts had occurred, a greater deployment of security and investigative resourc- es would have been required. Preventing the thefts from continuing was far more effective than investigating and responding to claims of stolen property.
Georgetown is not the only institution making innovative use of this sort of technology. In September 2017, Central Connecticut State Uni- versity officially deployed LiveSafe. On September 28, 2017 (less than 30 days after launching), Central Connecticut State University Police Department’s Dispatch Center received a LiveSafe tip through their dashboard regarding a community member who was actively inflicting injury to themselves and had suicidal ideations.
As a result of the LiveSafe tip, Dispatch was able to send officers to the location where they met the student and confirmed the injuries and the suicidal ideations. University Police were able to render medi- cal assistance and ensure that long-term care was made available. A potentially tragic scenario was averted and a community member in need was helped. Without that early warning, this incident could have played out much more tragically.
There are countless other applications for this sort of platform. One popular feature involves smart-notified “safe walks.” Users can map out their route on Google Maps, complete with estimated travel times, and select contacts (which can include security officials) to be notified. Once the trip begins, the app will require the user to push a button at regular intervals, confirming they are safe. Should that button not be pressed, the selected contacts will be notified. This is a highly useful feature for students on college campuses who may be concerned about walking alone, especially late at night.
These platforms are only as powerful as the people who use them. As more colleges and universities commit to incident prevention by using smartphone-based risk intelligence tools, they also must undertake an effort to engage the entire campus community. Every additional set of eyes and ears that contributes to reporting helps make prevention a reality for campus law enforcement and security officials.
Ensuring safety and security on campus must be a collaborative effort. Leveraging an institution’s most valuable asset—its people—is not only the most effective way of preventing incidents, but also dem- onstrates that the administration is taking safety and security seriously. People-sourced risk intelligence platforms empower individuals to take ownership of their own well-being, and contribute to the safety and security of their campus community by maximizing the situation- al awareness of their local police and security departments.
Open lines of communication between security officials and the general population have the potential to improve the overall relation- ship between a university administration and the community it serves. This sort of incident prevention and communications model demonstrates a shared interest and commitment in
creating a safer campus and engenders mutual respect among members of the community. The result is a healthier, safer and more inclusive cam- pus for all.
Carolyn Parent is the CEO of LiveSafe.

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